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By Ben Selby
Elvis Presley, or “The King” if you are fan, needs no introduction. The King of Rock and Roll is known throughout the world for being a legend in his own lifetime, and single handily changed the music business forever. Elvis was the first music artist to have his own private plane, his own plush mansion, the first to generate fan hysteria, and the first to be censored. In other words, Elvis set the template for all rock and rollers for years to come.
Elvis was also a keen car guy, acquiring many tasteful run arounds, from a Mercedes 600 Grosser to a BMW 507. However, his 1971 yellow De Tomaso Pantera is probably most notorious car “The King” has owned, largely because of one incident between the Pantera and his Colt 45 Pistol.
Powered by an American 351ci Cleveland V8 producing 330hp, the Pantera was another underdog sports car made the Italian firm founded by Argentinian, Alejandro De Tomaso. Styled by Ghia’s Tom Tjaarda, it had the paint wetting combination of Italian supercar looks, but with a simple bulletproof American V8. Needless to say, early Panteras sold through Ford dealerships in the US provided a tempting buy, even for Elvis.
However, as time went on, the Pantera, cool though it was, wasn’t exactly the most reliable sports car at the time, with many owners complaining of rust issues and general break downs. Which brings us jointly back to the story.
Elvis bought this yellow Pantera as a present for his girlfriend at the time, Linda Thompson. The story goes Elvis and Linda had a heated argument and Elvis wanted out of there sharpish. When Linda left, Elvis wanted to give the De Tomaso a full throttle blast up the street to make a tyre squealing point, but the car would not start.
Elvis, filled with rage, produced a Colt 45 Pistol and then proceeded to fire multiple shots at the steering wheel and the floor. We don’t know whether the Pantera started or was towed away. If it was the latter, its not hard to imagine the tow truck driver having a good story to tell back at the depot!
Today, the yellow Pantera once owned, and shot up, by “The King” is part of the amazing collection of famous cars at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles, bullet holes and all.